7 Reasons Janelle Monáe Should Be More Popular
Author’s Note: I feel like the original spotlight I did on Janelle Monáe last year did not do her justice, so I’m doing another one. Another reason is that I’m tired of reading YouTube comments that say she has no talent.
1. She has created an epic music saga that has science fiction, romance, and sociopolitical commentary.
Beginning with Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase, the story is set in a futuristic world called Metropolis where there is a class system of humans and androids. Humans make up the wealthy while androids make up the working class and poor. The main protagonist of the story is the android Cindi Mayweather, who is sent back in time to free Metropolis from its strife. Cindi’s story begins when she becomes the target of Metropolis’s government for falling in love with a human named Anthony Greendown.
The albums Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase and The ArchAndroid focus on Cindi’s attempts to evade the authorities, becoming aware of what is going on in the world around her, and realizing how she could change things.
The Electric Lady, Monae’s most recent album, is set before The Archandroid album and tells multiple stories. First, there is Cindi’s past before she fell in love with Anthony Greendown. Then, there are the identities Cindi assumes when she is sent back in time, Janelle Monae and The Electric Lady. Finally, there is the daily lives of the androids in Metropolis.
With this much creative storytelling, it is impossible to skip a track on her albums.
2. All the albums of The Metropolis saga feature a variety of genres and influences.
Despite being her shortest work so far, Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase, is a great blend of R&B, funk, soul, and operatic elements. The ArchAndroid is her most eclectic work, featuring classical, pop. rock, jazz, electronica, and funk. Finally, The Electric Lady features different sides to R&B, showing its connection to funk, soul, rock, jazz, and hip-hop.
Collectively, you can hear a variety of musical influences on Monae such as David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, and Betty Davis (the funk singer).
3. Her music videos are just as creative as her albums.
They work together with the songs to tell the story of Cindi Mayweather and Metropolis. It’s a shame more videos weren’t made for The Archandroid.
“Many Moons”– from Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase
“Cold War”– from The ArchAndroid
“Q.U.E.E.N” – from The Electric Lady
4. Her singing and dancing, whether live or studio, is phenomenal.
With her dancing, you can see how Michael Jackson and James Brown influenced her. She channels her own energy into their moves to create fun, exciting performances. When it comes to her voice, it has a great range that goes from soothing low notes to energetic and soulful high notes.
Songs and Performances with notable vocals:
“Cindi” from The Audition (a very rare album released in 2003)
“Come Alive (War of The Roses)” from The Archandroid
“Say You’ll Go” (Live audio from a National Public Radio session)- from The ArchAndroid
“Ba Bop Bye Ya” (Live from Emory University)- from The ArchAndroid
Music Videos and Performances with notable dancing:
“Tightrope” from The Archandroid
“Dance Apocalyptic” (Live from the David Letterman Show)- from The Electric Lady
“Electric Lady” (Live on The Today Show) from The Electric Lady
5. Certain tracks are made to empower or represent specific groups of people.
“Cindi”(see above link)- encourages those who don’t fit in to accept themselves and be themselves
“Q.U.E.E.N.” (see above link)- According to an interview, the song is meant for women and those with different sexual orientations, but is also an acronym for the queer, the untouchables, the excommunicated, the emmigrants, and the negroid.
“Ghetto Woman” from The Electric Lady– for working class women
6. According to an acceptance speech she gave at Black Girls Rock! in 2012, she stated that she wears her signature black and white tuxedo to honor her parents and to stay connected to the community.
7. Janelle Monáe is a brilliant, beautiful, and talented woman who cannot and should not be categorized because she dances to her own beat.